Sen. Feinstein calls Snowden's NSA leaks an 'act of treason'

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday said the 29-year-old man who leaked information about two national security programs is guilty of treason.

Feinstein said that she doesn’t see National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden as a hero or a whistle blower.

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“I don't look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it's an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution.

“He violated the oath, he violated the law. It's treason.”

The Guardian reported that Snowden was a former CIA employee who had been working on an NSA contract for defense contractor Booz-Allen. He revealed to both that paper and the Washington Post details of a pair of NSA surveillance programs that culled phone records and internet data for study.

A petition launched Sunday on the official White House site urged President Obama to give Snowden a full pardon.

The Justice Department said over the weekend they were investigating Snowden's admission.

“The Department of Justice is in the initial stages of an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by an individual with authorized access,” said Nanda Chitre, a spokeswoman for the agency. “Consistent with long standing Department policy and procedure and in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we must decline further comment.”

On Sunday, Feinstein said she would be open to congressional inquiries into the NSA programs.

“I’m open to doing a hearing every month, if that’s necessary,” she told ABC News.

But, Feinstein said, “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”